Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Black Bean Chipotle Dip

Just in time for the Superbowl. This hot bean dip is always a hit. This can be easily doubled for a larger gathering. However, don’t double the vinegar. Add vinegar to taste after the first three tablespoons or it will be a bit overpowering. 

Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine


olive oil

2 medium tomatoes seeded and chopped

2 teaspoons of kosher salt

1 large yellow onion chopped

3 cloves of minced garlic

1 tablespoon of chili powder

2 15 1/2 oz  cans of black beans rinsed and drained

2 canned chipotles en adobo minced (with the sauce that is attached)

3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen corn kernels (thawed)

6 ounces of grated sharp cheddar

6 ounces grated Monterey jack

3/4 cup of chopped cilantro

black pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish. Place chopped tomatoes in a colander and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and let drain in the sink. Saute the onion in oil along with the other teaspoon of kosher salt until translucent. Add the garlic and chili powder and cook another minute. Add one can of the beans, chipotles, and 3/4 cup of water and bring to a boil until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat and add vinegar. Mash the mixture with a potato masher or immersion blender until fairly smooth. Place in a large bowl. Add the rest of the beans, the tomatoes, corn and half of each of the cheeses. Add the cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to the greased baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes. This can be made in advance and refrigerated just bake a bit longer. Enjoy



“You don’t have to cook fancy or create masterpieces in your kitchen, just cook good food with fresh ingredients” Julia Childs.

 Fresh ingredients are what this guacamole is all about. I’m sure so far you have realized I’m a cook not a photographer. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t showcase the freshness of this dish. I’m starting to think it’s time to invest in a real camera. I do however promise you if you follow these simple directions and use fresh ingredients you wont be disappointed.

Cooks notes: The most important part of  guacamole is of course the avocado. Once you learn how to properly select one, your guacamole will be taken to new heights. You can get by in a pinch if some of the other ingredients aren’t perfect but not your avocados. Most stores go into a panic mode when they have a bin of overripe avocados and they immediately begin to stick big orange stickers on them that say RIPE. Trust me, by the time they put those stickers on they are generally way past their prime. The same goes for underripe  avocados, if they are too hard pass them up. I prefer shopping for them in the mercados in Southwest Detroit either the day before or the day I’m making this dish. The selections are great and you never have to guess if they will be overripe or underripe by the day you need them. I understand not everyone wants to make a road trip to Detroit for avocados so here is the next best thing you can do. Pick up the avocado and very gently squeeze it with your thumb and your first two fingers. If there is no give in the skin and flesh it is underripe. If there is too much give it is overripe. Once you get them home and realize you nailed it you will be an expert avocado selector from that day on. Skip the avocados in this recipe, cut back on the salt and you have a pretty good pico de gallo as well.  Here is what you will need.


4 small Mexican or 3 large Californian avocados

2 Roma style tomatoes chopped 

1/2 cup of chopped white onion

1 garlic clove pressed

1/2 jalapeno or serrano pepper seeded and membrane removed (unless you like more heat, this is very mild) very finely chopped

3 to 4 tablespoons of fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

2 teaspoons of fresh squeezed lime juice (then add to taste)

Directions: Mix everything in a bowl except for the avocado and let sit for 5 minutes for the flavors to blend. Mix in the avocado breaking up with a large spoon until the consistency you like. Push a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole pushing out any air. Let sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes for the flavors to further blend. Remove the plastic, stir and enjoy.


Mushroom, Garlic and Shallot Bruschetta with Goat Cheese

I served this the other night as an appetizer to go with my vegetarian Tuscan bean soup. I had all of the ingredients lying around in the refrigerator getting close to the end of their prime. All that was missing was the bread. After work I headed to Paneras and picked up a $2.75 baguette and it was time to get back to work. However, this time the work would take place in the kitchen. No matter how many pictures I took of these guys I just couldn’t get them to look good. The taste however was anything but disappointing.

Cooks Notes: We all know that no one actually drinks white wine. It just gets re-gifted until someone like me cooks with it. Dont look surprised, you’ve done it. Next time you get a bottle here is what you need to know. Once wine is opened it begins to oxidize almost immediately and begins to go bad. There are however a few ways to keep your cooking wine fresh the longest. One is to keep it as cold as possible. The second is to purchase a Vac U Vin. The third and best way is to do both. Dont purchase the wine labeled cooking wine in the stores. One taste out of the bottle and you will see why, trust me. If it is not worthy to be served at your table don’t cook with it. Here is what you will need for this recipe.


A regular pan (not a non stick)

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil (plus more for bread)

12oz of fresh mushrooms diced

2 shallots sliced

2 cloves of garlic chopped or pressed

scant 1/4 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar

1/4 cup of dry white wine

salt and pepper to taste

one baguette or crusty Italian bread

goat cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice baguette on the diagonal and lightly brush with olive oil. Place in the oven until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. While the baguette slices are cooking melt the butter and olive oil in the pan. Saute mushrooms, shallots, and garlic until soft and their liquids have been released. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the vinegar , salt, pepper and Italian spice. Simmer until all of the liquid has evaporated and the pan contents are a nice golden brown (about 10 minutes). Spread a small amount of goat cheese on each baguette slice and top with warm mushrooms, Serve immediately.

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